Title: Sock Horror!
Characters: Ianto, Jack, Tosh, Team
Word Count: 798
Summary: Torchwood encounters a previously unknown species and Ianto’s life is in peril.
Content Notes: Absolute crack.
Written For: Challenge #94: Footwear at fan_flashworks
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
A/N: I should probably be ashamed about writing this, but I’m not. It’s about time people here realised I have a warped sense of humour and a rather vivid imagination. I work on the principle that it’s Torchwood; therefore anything can happen.
They were staring up at him with beady, malevolent eyes, shifting restlessly and twining around each other with a sibilant slithering sound, rather like a nest of snakes. Ianto was pretty sure that wasn’t normal behaviour for socks. The socks in his drawer at home were altogether more… inanimate. He was starting to think he might have a problem. Lifting his hand, he tapped his earpiece.
“Ianto! Find anything?”
“Yep. I think I could use a hand here.”
He only took his eyes off them for a second, but that was all they needed. They attacked in a swarm, the sheer mass of them bringing him to the ground before he could even try to run. He fought back with all his strength, clawing at them, snatching handfuls and flinging them away, but it was no good. They were back in moments, joining the mass that were smothering, suffocating him, trying to slither into his mouth. He clenched his teeth to keep them out, unable to even call for help, and still they came. He hadn’t realised there were so many; there must have been hundreds of them lurking hidden among the autumn leaves. Just when he thought he was surely doomed, he heard a welcome voice.
“Ianto? Where are you?” Jack sounded mercifully close.
Ianto knew he had to risk opening his mouth. Batting socks away from his face, he managed to cover his mouth with both hands long enough to yell.
It was enough. Minutes later, the team were charging into the clearing, weapons at the ready. But what could guns do against malevolent footwear?
“Target the Queen!” Jack shouted, pointing, and everyone opened fire, aiming at something Ianto hadn’t noticed before and could barely see now, since he was half-buried under the seething swarm. It looked rather like a big, fuzzy, stripy Christmas stocking hanging from a tree at the edge of the clearing. At least, it did until the hail of bullets shredded it to tatters. Immediately, the attacking horde went limp. Ianto struggled out from under the pile, brushing socks off himself and hastily backing away.
“What are they?” he asked breathlessly, retreating to Jack’s side.
“Not sure. They look a lot like socks.”
“I noticed that.”
“What should we do with them now?” asked Tosh, picking up a limp lavender sock.
“Better gather them all up and incinerate them back at the Hub,” Jack decided. “Just to be on the safe side.”
“I’ll fetch the containment boxes,” Ianto said, hurrying away, eager to put some distance between himself and his erstwhile attackers, even if just for a few minutes.
When he returned, laden with four large containment boxes, he found his colleagues busily gathering the socks, and the remains of their Queen, into a pile in the middle of the clearing, poking among the fallen leaves to make sure they collected them all. Tosh approached, looking sad.
“They were probably just protecting the Queen; she had babies.” She held out her hand, showing them the cluster of tiny pink socklets.
“Be that as it may,” Jack said firmly, “they were posing a significant threat. They already killed three dogs, two deer and an unfortunate birdwatcher, and they almost got Ianto too! We couldn’t just leave them roaming free out here, and somehow I don’t think they would have listened to reason. Swarms of any species are difficult to contain. I know it’s sad, but we did what we had to.”
Scooping the socks into the boxes Ianto had set down beside the pile, they made a final check of the clearing and its surroundings, gathering a handful of stray socks that had been missed, then tightly closed the lids and hauled everything back to the SUV. The creatures were remarkably heavy for socks; something Ianto could have told the others if any of them had bothered to ask. After all, he’d just had the singular experience of being buried under a whole swarm of them. It was an experience he hoped never to repeat.
When they arrived at the Hub, the whole team trooped down to the furnace, where the deceased sock-creatures were consigned to the flames.
Jack said a few words, speaking of their regret at having to destroy a previously unknown species without even having the chance to study them and advance their knowledge. Ianto only felt relieved that the little monsters were gone for good.
Even so, when he got home, before going to bed, he wedged a chair under his sock drawer handles and put a heavy box on top of the laundry hamper, just to be sure. After all, it never hurt to take a few precautions. One thing was certain; he was never going to look at socks quite the same way again.